Expressive means and stylistic devices
Expressive means and stylistic devices
Expressive means of a
language are those linguistic forms and properties that have
the potential to make the utterance emphatic or expressive. These
can be found on all levels—phonetic, graphical, morphological, lexical or syntactical.
Expressive means and stylistic devices have a lot in common but they are not completely synonymous. All stylistic devices belong to expressive means but not all expressive means are stylistic devices. Phonetic phenomena such as vocal pitch, pauses, logical stress, and drawling, or staccato pronunciation are all expressive without being stylistic devices
Morphological forms like diminutive suffixes may have an
expressive effect: girlie, piggy, doggy, etc. An unexpected use
of the author's nonce words like: He glasnosted his love
affair with the movie star is another example of morphological expressive means.
Lexical expressive means may be illustrated by a special group о intensifiers—awfully, terribly, absolutely, etc. or words that retain their logical meaning while being used emphatically: / was a very sped evening/event/gift.
There are also special grammatical forms and syntactical patterns attributing expressiveness, such as: / do know you! I'm really angry with that dog of у ours! That you should deceive me! If only I could help you!
A stylistic device is a literary model
in which semantic and structural features are blended so
that it represents a generalised pattern.
a stylistic device a generative model when through frequent use a language fact is transformed into a stylistic device.
Prof. I. R. Galperin calls
Thus we may say that some expressive means have evolved into stylistic devices which represent a more abstract form or set of forms.
A stylistic device combines some general semantic meaning with a certain linguistic form resulting in stylistic effect. It is like an algorithm employed for an expressive purpose.
For example, the interplay, interaction, or clash of the dictionary and contextual meanings of words will bring about such stylistic devices as metaphor, metonymy or irony.
The nature of the interaction
(likeness by nature),
proximity (nearness in place, time, order,
the principle of affinity, metonymy based on proximity and irony based on opposition.
or contrast (opposition).
Respectively there is metaphor based on
The evolution of a stylistic device such as
metaphor could be seen from four examples that demonstrate
this linguistic mechanism (interplay of dictionary and contextual meaning based
on the principle of affinity):
1. My new dress is as pink as
this flower: comparison (ground for comparison—the colour of the
(ground for simile— colour/beauty/health/freshness)
2. Her cheeks were as red as a tulip: simile
3. She is a real flower: metaphor (ground for metaphor—frail/ fragrant/tender/beautiful/helpless...). My love is a red, red rose: metaphor (ground for metaphor— passionate/beautiful/strong...).
4. Ruby lips, hair of gold, snow-white skin: trite metaphors so frequently employed that they hardly have any stylistic power left because metaphor dies of overuse. Such metaphors are also called hackneyed or even dead.
I. R. Galperin's classification of expressive means and
The classification suggested by Prof. Galperin is simply
organised and very detailed. His manual «Stylistics» published in 1971
includes the following subdivision of expressive means and stylistic devices based on the level-oriented approach:
Phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices.
Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices.
Syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices.
Phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices
To this group
Galperin refers such means as:
onomatopoeia (direct and indirect): ding-dong;
silver bells... tinkle, tinkle;
alliteration (initial rhyme): to rob Peter to
rhyme (full, incomplete, compound or broken, eye rhyme, internal rhyme. Also, stanza rhymes: couplets, triple, cross, framing/ring);
Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices
There are three
big subdivisions in this class of devices and they
all deal with the semantic nature of a word or
However the criteria of selection of means for each subdivision are different and manifest different semantic processes.
I. In the first subdivision the principle of
classification is the interaction of different types of a
word's meanings: dictionary, contextual, derivative, nominal, and emotive.
effect of the lexical means is achieved through the binary opposition of dictionary and contextual or logical and emotive or primary and derivative meanings of a word.
A. The first group includes means based on
the interplay of dictionary and contextual meanings:
metaphor: Dear Nature
is the kindest Mother still. (Byron)
the law For rich man's sons are free.
The camp, the pulpit and
irony: // must be delightful to find oneself in a foreign country without a penny in one's pocket.
B. The second unites means based on the interaction
of primary and
polysemy: Massachusetts was hostile to the
American flag, and she would not allow it to be
hoisted on her State House;
zeugma and pun: May's mother always stood on her gentility; and Dot's mother never stood on anything but her active little feet. (Dickens)
C. The third group comprises means based on the
opposition of logical and emotive meanings:
interjections and exclamatory words:
present life is but an interjection
joy or misery,
An 'Oh' or 'Ah' of
Or a 'Ha! ha!' or 'Bah!'-a yawn or 'Pooh!'
Of which perhaps the latter is most true.
epithet: a well-matched, fairly-balanced give-and-take couple.
oxymoron: peopled desert, populous solitude, proud humility.
D. The fourth group is based on the
interaction of logical and nominal meanings and includes:
antonomasia; an epithet or
phrase takes the place of a proper name, such as
"the little corporal" for Napoleon I
Mr. Facing-Both-Ways does not get very far in this world.
II. The principle for distinguishing the second big
subdivision is based on the interaction between two lexical
meanings simultaneously materialised in the context.
helps to call special attention to a certain feature of the object described. Here belong:
This kind of interaction
simile: treacherous as a snake, faithful as a dog, slow as a tortoise.
periphrasis: a gentleman of the long robe (a lawyer); the fair sex. (women)
euphemism: In private I should call him a liar. In the Press you should use the words: 'Reckless disregard for truth'.
hyperbole: The earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in and the sun and the moon were made to give them light.
Ш. The third subdivision comprises stable word combinations
in their interaction with the context:
cliches: clockwork precision, crushing
defeat, the whip and carrot policy.
said, milk's spilt.
proverbs and sayings: Come! he
epigrams: A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.
Quotations: Ecclesiastes said, 'that all is vanity'.
allusions: Shakespeare talks of the herald Mercury.
decomposition of set phrases: You know which side the law's buttered.
Syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices are not
paradigmatic but syntagmatic or structural means.
In defining syntactical
devices Galperin proceeds from the following thesis:
have their own independent meaning and this meaning may affect the lexical meaning. In doing so it may impart a special contextual meaning to some of the lexical units.
the structural elements
The principal criteria for classifying syntactical stylistic devices
the juxtaposition (совмещение, сближение) of the parts of
of colloquial constructions;
the type of connection of the parts;
the peculiar use
the transference of structural meaning.
Devices built on the principle of juxtaposition
types): Down dropped the breeze.
Stylistic inversion aims at
attaching logical stress or additional emotional colouring to the surface
meaning of the utterance. Therefore a specific intonation pattern is the inevitable satellite of inversion.
The following patterns of stylistic inversion are most frequently met in both English prose and English poetry.
1. The object is placed at the beginning of the sentence, Talent Mr.Micawber has, capital Mr. Micawber has not.
2. The attribute is placed after the word it modifies, With fingers weary and worn.
3. The predicate is placed before the subject, A good generous prayer it was.
4. The adverbial modifier is placed at the beginning of the sentence. My dearest daughter, at your feet I fall.
5. Both modifier and predicate stand before the subject, In went Mr. Pickwick.
Sometimes one of the secondary parts
of the sentence by some specific consideration of the
writer is placed so that it seems formally independent of
the word it logically refers to. Such parts of structures are called detached. They seem to dangle in the sentence as isolated parts. The detached part, being torn away from its referent, assumes a greater degree of significance and is given prominence by intonation". She was lovely: all of her—delightful.
Parallel construction (parallelism), shows that two or more ideas are equally important by stating them in grammatically parallel form: noun lined up with noun, verb with verb, phrase with phrase. Parallelism can lend clarity, elegance, and symmetry to what you say: I came; I saw; I conquered. —Julius Caesar
The seeds ye sow—another reaps, The robes ye weave—another wears The arms ye forge—another bears.
Chiasmus is a figure of speech containing two
phrases that are parallel but inverted to each other.
can take the patriot out of the country but you
cannot take the country out of the patriot.
In the days of old men made manners Manners now make men.
repetition: For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs, sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter.
enumeration: The principle production of these towns... appear to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and dock-yard men.
Suspense is the intense feeling that an
audience goes through while waiting for the outcome of
certain events. It basically leaves the reader holding their breath
and wanting more information. The amount of intensity in a suspenseful moment is why it is hard to put a book down. Without suspense, a reader would lose interest quickly in any story because there is nothing that is making the reader ask, “What’s going to happen next?”
In writing, there has to be a series of events that leads to a climax that captivates the audience and makes them tense and anxious to know what is going to happen.
Suspense is the deliberate slowing down of the thought, postponing its completion till the very end of the utterance.
Very often the stylistic device of suspense is formed by various kinds of parenthetical words and sentences.
I have been accused of bad taste. This has disturbed me, not so much for my own sake as for the sake of criticism in general.
climax: They looked at hundred of houses, they
climbed thousands of stairs, they inspected innumerable kitchens.
Youth is lovely, age is lonely; Youth is fiery, age
An antithesis is used when the writer employs two sentences of contrasting meanings in close proximity to one another.
Whether they are words or phrases of the same sentence, an antithesis is used to create a stark contrast using two divergent elements that come together to create one uniform whole.
An antithesis plays on the complementary property of opposites to create one vivid picture. The purpose of using an antithesis in literature is to create a balance between opposite qualities and lend a greater insight into the subject.
When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon it might have been one small step for a man but it was one giant leap for mankind.
Devices based on the type of connection include
Soams turned away; he had an utter disinclination for
talk, one standing before an open grave...
practice in literature whereby the author purposely leaves out conjunctions in the sentence, while maintaining the grammatical accuracy of the phrase. Asyndeton as a literary tool helps in shortening up the implied meaning of the entire phrase and presenting it in a succinct form. This compact version helps in creating an immediate impact whereby the reader is instantly attuned to what the writer is trying to convey. Use of this literary device helps in creating a strong impact and such sentences have greater recall worth since the idea is presented in a nutshell.
Asyndeton refers to a
1. Read, Write, Learn.
2. Watch, Absorb, Understand.
3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
polysyndeton: The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail,
and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him
in only one respect.
using conjunctions or connecting words frequently in a sentence, placed very close to one another. Opposed to the usual norm of using them sparsely, only where they are technically needed. The use of polysyndetons is primarily for adding dramatic effect as they have a strong rhetorical presence.
Polysyndeton refers to the process of
a) Saying “here and there and everywhere”, instead of simply saying “here, there and everywhere”.
b) “Marge and Susan and Anne and Daisy and Barry all planned to go for a picnic”, instead of “Marge, Susan, Anne, Daisy and Barry…” emphasizes each of the individuals and calls attention to every person one by one instead of assembling them as a group.
It was an afternoon to dream.
And she took out Jon's letters
The Gap-Sentence Link (GSL) is
a peculiar type of connection of sentences in which the
connection is not immediately seen and it requires an effort to grasp the interrelation between the parts of the utterance.
She and that fellow ought to be the sufferers, and they are in Italy.(It means-Those who ought to be the sufferers are enjoying themselves in Italy where well-to-do English people go for holiday.)
The Gap-Sentence Link is generally indicated by and or but. The functions of GSL are the following:
1) it signals the introduction of inner represented speech;
2) it indicates a subjective evaluation of the facts;
3) it displays an unexpected coupling of ideas.
The Gap-Sentence Link aims at stirring up in the reader’s mind the suppositions, associations and conditions under which the sentence can exist.
Figures united by the peculiar use of colloquial
Ellipsis: Nothing so difficult as a beginning; how soft
the chin which' bears his touch.
part of speech that is understood, i.e. the omission is intentional. In writing and printing this intentional omission is indicated by the row of three dots (…) or asterisks (***).
Ellipsis always imitates the common features of colloquial language. This punctuation mark is called a suspension point or dot-dot-dot.
Ellipsis refers to any omitted
Aposiopesis (break-in-the-narrative): Good intentions but -; You just come home or I'll...
Aposiopesis is when a sentence is purposefully left incomplete or cut off. It’s caused by an inability or unwillingness to continue speaking. This allows the ending to be filled in by the listener’s imagination. In order to show aposiopesis in a sentence, one may use the em dash (–) or ellipsis (…).
Question in the narrative: Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise?
Represented speech (uttered and unuttered or inner represented
coveys to the reader the unuttered or inner speech
of the character, his thoughts and feelings. This device is
also termed represented speech. To distinguish between the two varieties of represented speech we call the representation of the actual utterance through the author's language "uttered represented speech", and the representation of the thoughts and feelings of the character unuttered or inner represented speech.
Marshal asked the crowd to disperse and urged responsible diggers to prevent any disturbance...
Over and over he was asking himself, would she receive him ?
Transferred use of structural meaning involves such figures
Rhetorical questions: How long must we suffer? Where is
Bardell was no deceiver.
Litotes: He was no gentle lamb (London); Mr.